Saturday, January 12

The Bush Visit Hype in Israel and Palestine

President George Bush has come and gone. He received a very warm welcome in Israel and perhaps less so in the West Bank by the Palestinian Authority. It was an amazing show of hospitality, which began with well-rehearsed solo singing of the famous song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in English, Hebrew and Arabic from the classic film “The Wizard of Oz” and dancing by children in President Shimon Peres’ presidential residence to welcome President Bush. There was a moment of euphoria with all this pomp and ceremony. Many of us had strong doubts as to the potential success of the visit. It somehow seemed very artificial and unrealistic.

Expectations of a treaty between Israel and the Palestinians towards the end of 2008 are a vision that Bush somehow entertained and expressed at the end of his visit. Those living in the area and have experienced many disappointments see that as dreaming. No peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians can be achieved without including Gaza. Bush does not seem to be clear as to how Hamas could be part of his imaginable peace treaty by the end of this year. Hamas is viewed as a terrorist organization by Israel, the US and the EU. Hamas is well entrenched and rules Gaza. Overlooking this fact, while declaring the signing of peace treaties for an independent Palestinian state, is not realistic. The chances of any peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians are remote without including Hamas in negotiations. As it is, the Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh predictably stated that Bush gave Israel all required pledges to solidify its occupation".

President Bush’s visit to Israel in the last year of his presidency will not achieve anything to promote peace. Since he has left much baggage in Iraq and in Afghanistan which is ruled by an American puppet-regime under President Hamid Karzai, his record of success in the Middle East at trouble shooting is close to zero. The situation in Afghanistan is hardly any better than in Iraq. Wherever the US gets involved in “liberating” a country from dictators or cruel regimes, it leaves a situation behind that is a human disaster! Bush is obsessed naively with installing a western-style democracy in these countries. In Iraq, there is total anarchy with many splinter terrorist groups some of which are affiliated to Al-Qaeda are causing total havoc amongst Iraqis, including suicide bombings. The Bush failure in Iraq and in Afghanistan is plain for all to see. Can Israelis and Palestinians afford to take Bush seriously? After all he has botched up so much. He can barely be viewed as an “honest broker”. He has “honestly broken” Iraq and Afghanistan beyond repair. Where was Bush during the last seven years? What is the hurry to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict before he retires to oblivion? The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been on the backburner for most of President Bush’s presidential term.

The Bush naivety and eccentricity comes to the fore when he gives speeches on fighting terror and solving the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. He gave the impression that he does not understand the mechanics of the conflict. He had made so many statements that somehow do not reflect any deep knowledge of the situation. According to Al Jazeera, Bush spoke of Israel's "occupation" of territory it seized in the 1967 conflict, he was clear that any "mutually agreed adjustments" would still leave Israel with settlements in the West Bank. This is problematic from the Palestinian point of view and would never be acceptable. It would be viewed as a definite pro-Israel bias. According to Al-Ahram weekly 10-16 January 2008, on the eve of Bush’s state visit to Israel, Israel had been involved in confiscating land from the Palestinians. This is no positive atmosphere for any form of peace treaty.

He came to Israel in the midst of a lot of Israeli Press hype. His visit was given very little press coverage in the US. Hilary Clinton’s failures and successes in her quest to be nominated as Democratic Party candidate for the presidency were more prominent in the US press. To all intents and purposes, President Bush’s travels to the Middle East are not a newsworthy item in the US. He is viewed as an unsuccessful has-been ceasing to have much relevance. There is nothing better for a lack-lustre president than to embark on a Middle East tour of irrelevance in order to boost up his sagging ego towards the end of his presidential term. He knew that in Israel he would receive a hero’s welcome, which he did.

During Bush’s visit and his meetings with Israeli leaders, he expressed sentiments that were music to their ears. He had to add a few “jarring notes” of soft-serve, such as “ending the occupation” for Palestinian consumption. However no new ideas were forthcoming on how to end it. When he visited the West Bank he also expressed platitudes aimed to satisfy the Palestinians. This did not go down well with the Palestinians despite the fact that he was received warmly by President Mahmoud Abbas.

Now that the dust of the Bush visit is settling rather rapidly, it will be a matter of time before it will be forgotten. What will remain of this visit will still be the check posts – a source of harassment to innocent Palestinians. The dehumanizing searches at these check points will also remain. Who knows how many sick Palestinians in need of urgent medical attention will suffer unnecessary delays to arrive at Israeli hospitals. Medical facilities for sophisticated treatment are severely lacking in the West Bank. The occupied Palestinians are still under Israel’s responsibility for their health and welfare. The illegal settlements will continue to be built which will encroach even further into Palestinian owned lands making a viable Palestinian state a virtual impossibility. Check posts will not be removed as this will remain a security measure to protect the illegal settlements. Nothing will change. The consequences of this will be the decrease in size of the future Palestinian state if it will be established. It is as if Bush had said “End the occupation” knowing that under these circumstances it will not occur.

The future Palestinian state, with its enclaves of Jewish settlements, looks like measles on the map of the West Bank. It is unlikely that Israel will agree to evacuation of these settlements to make way for the future Palestinian state. The idea of a one-state solution could become a consideration because the West Bank is becoming more populated with illegal settlements. This situation will be Israel’s creation. The core issues such as Jerusalem and the refugees will not come up for discussion as this would result in Olmert’s coalition falling apart. The situation for the future of a Palestinian state as well as peace between Israel and the Palestinians is bleaker now than ever before. Involvement of the US, whose credibility is low, will not facilitate a peace treaty that both sides need so desperately.

“Bush comes and goes.

We remain here-

And so do the Palestinians

Not the Americans

Will safeguard our future.

Our future

Will be assured

When we succeed

In persuading

The Arab world

That we are fair partners

In the building of this region-

For all its peoples and countries.”

Gush Shalom – Haaretz-Friday January 11th 2008

1 comment:

manfred said...

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we are to find in the word poetry ... for our blog... i think that you in your life you have written a poetry or that you know an Israeli poet

send us !!!

We are similar !!!! You knew?

best regards